Coronavirus and Immigration – Some Tips

It has become increasingly difficult to sort through the fog of coronavirus updates. I’d like to offer just a few tips based upon what I’ve seen in my practice. I’ve also included some links to resources that may be of help.

    Travel to the United States

Until at least mid-April, persons who have been in Europe recently may not enter the United States. Presidential action will be required to lift the ban. In the meantime, it’s quite possible that the ban will apply to other regions. The White House posts proclamations at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/.

    Attending Appointments at USCIS Offices

Anyone scheduled to appear at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office for biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) or an interview will want to check the USCIS website page on Office Closings at https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings to find out if the office will be open. Persons who are ill are asked to reschedule appointments.

    Applying for a Visa Overseas

U.S. consulates and embassies abroad are considering visa applications only for emergencies. Existing appointments have been cancelled. Until the State Department issues further guidance, which likely will be on a consulate- or embassy-specific basis, it’s not possible to apply for a nonimmigrant (e.g. visitor or work) visa or immigrant visa (green card).

    Extending Status in the United States

Foreign nationals in the U.S. on any nonimmigrant (temporary) visa will want to be sure to check their I-94 Departure Record (download it at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home) to see when their (and any dependent family members’) authorized stay in the U.S. expires. If they will not be departing the U.S. before that day, they can make arrangements now to pursue submitting an extension request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Submitting their extension request before the current stay expires allows them to remain in the U.S. while the extension is pending. For most work visas, the pending extension also provides 240 days of work authorization beyond the current expiration to allow them to continue working. Keep in mind that the employer submits the extension request for an employee. Family members must submit a separate application, which can be included along with the employer’s request for the employee.

There doubtless are other situations and considerations. These are the most common ones I’ve encountered. The best advice is to stay healthy.